From: Stanley Weinberg
Every year we meet at the Rouse Co. for our annual mall merchantsmeeting and hear the same thing: how great we are doing compared to the previous year and how great our advertising and publicity is. Rents go up, our leases end and we are told to remodel and relocate.
What has Rouse Co. done for the storekeepers in 21 years?
* Added new tables and chairs to the eatery and fixed that area a little.
* Added a new section to The Mall that looks as old as the old section now.
When it rains, there are pails all over The Mall catching water. Water also leaks into some of the store ceilings.
When summer comes, we have no air conditioning. Our mall is very dark, dreary and old.
What we need is a new, bright mall with white marble floors and gold brass hand rails like Rouse Co.'s Owings Mills Mall. Then you will really see the difference in our figures. All the malls around us were redone, including Laurel Mall, Westview Mall, Security Mall, Montgomery Mall, Towson Town Center and Wheaton Plaza.
Rouse Co., what happened to us? We were made to upscale our stores. What about upscaling our mall?
This is nothing against The Mall personnel management and services. They are just great. You can only do so much with an old mall. If you want better business, redo Columbia Mall. I have been here from the day it opened.
Isn't it a pity the store owners can't say, "Well, Rouse Co., your lease is up. Either remodel your mall or get out."
(Stanley Weinberg is the manager of Rafet's Hairmasters.)
WE NEED GOLF COURSE
From: Mike Rethman
A rebuilt golf course at Allview (Fairway Hills) is a matter which won't go away.
The Columbia Council seems again ready to fulfill the promise made in the '80s that a replacement golf course will be built at the old Allview golf course site. Bravo!
A new 18-hole (short) regulation golf course at Allview represents a much-needed facility in an area which is sorely under-served in terms of facilities fora sport whose popularity is growing by leaps and bounds among teens,young adults, the middle-aged and elderly of both genders.
CA needs more facilities geared toward older interests -- especially as ourtown ages.
Now is a good time to build. CA would not only be providing jobs now and into the future but will be building a facility which can actually make money rather than be yet another CA recreation facility which is subsidized by lien dollars.
In the present economic downturn, CA would be able to get much of the work done by high-quality contractors at budget prices. (It makes good economic sense tomake purchases when times are hard. Allview is such an opportunity and CA can afford it.)
Such a project would help end the area's economic downturn and produce local jobs for both the short and long terms.
There are competing interests, of course. Cutting lien assessments, reduction of the accumulated deficit, cutting pool rates and building a new pool in Kendall Ridge are often mentioned.
As far as paying down the deficit, the present deficit reduction plan is a couple million dollars ahead of schedule. Kudos for good fiscal management are due here, but is it right to pull these dollars out of circulation now for the benefit of those who live here 20 years from now?
While many would like to see pool rates cut even more, the neighborhood pools are the biggest (by far) drain on CA's fiscal resources. The20-plus outdoor pools in Columbia were recently deemed sufficient for a town with a population of almost 500,000 instead of the 75,000 who live here.
The pool subsidy, which is probably understated in CA's accounting model, is approximately $1.5 million each year -- all for facilities which are open only about three months per year on average.
The bottom line is that there is a huge demand for additionalgolf in Columbia. The Columbia Council knows this well. CA can afford the golf course and will never be able to get it cheaper. There is no other CA Membership Services project on the horizon (other than the Family Fun Center) which is thought to be a potential money-maker.
Golf in Columbia is not elitist; rather, it fosters a recreationalmixing of people of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds in an environment which is not only beautiful but is also conducive to development of genuine friendships (rather than mere "sporting acquaintances").
If the Columbia Council can't or won't go ahead at this time,no more money should be spent and the site should be given to some group who would be willing to take the risk and rebuild the golf course that once was and was promised to return.
It's time to do it; I hope those who are on the Columbia Council have the guts to seize theopportunity instead of cowering in the myriad rationalizations styled to support the status quo.
FUTURE OF TECH SCHOOL
From: Ken and Janet Nuse
We are parents of a graduate and a senior who attended the School of Technology. Dr. Michael Hickey had made a presentation to the Wilde Lake Village Board (December 1991) and will be making another presentation to the parents, students and staff regarding the future of this school.
One of the latest suggestions is to merge the School of Technology with Wilde Lake High School, the latter being known as their "home" school.
In other words, if your present school is Hammond High School and you attend the School of Technology, you will no longer be affiliated with Hammond High School. The plan is to have your academic classes at Wilde Lake High School and be bussed back and forth to the School of Technology for your academic classes.
Valuable learning time is lost for these students traveling from their "home" school (let alone transportation costs involved).
A recommendation was presented quite a while ago, outlining an "academic wing" added to the present School of Technology. The possibility of a comprehensive high school (academic/technical) at one facility is a unique concept, and we feel it should be investigated thoroughly.
Also, on a countywide guidance survey, students representing their "home" high school were asked how they felt about this merge. Their response was to convert the present site to a comprehensivehigh school or leave it as is. None of the student representatives was in favor of a "merge."
Although this project is still in the planning stages (1995-1996 completion), the community (especially parents of elementary and middle school students) should be active and take interest in the plans of the future of the School of Technology.
Also planned, is an updated curriculum (i.e. biotechnology, state-of-the-art computer science and other technical courses). Another item to be considered is if the "merge" is postponed to a future date or the idea is completely eliminated, what is the School of Technology's future?
If you are concerned about the continued success of this program, at this facility, come to the School of Technology on March 10 at 7:30 p.m.
SCHOOL CUTS SHORT-SIGHTED
From: Barbara Wachs
An open letter to Sen. Christopher McCabe:
I am concerned about your portrayal of the Howard County school system as a "Taj Mahal." Your statements that services should be cut further and that it doesn't matter if our classrooms are more overcrowded show a lack of appreciation for quality public education.
Our school system is not excessive. Our class sizes should not be increased. Cutting back on education is not the way to solve the budget crisis. Education is an investment.
The Japanese realized many years ago that an investment in education was necessary for the long-term payoff of a vibranteconomy in the future. Their long-term investment is paying off now.Math and science are the cornerstones of our economy, yet we find ourselves cutting back in these areas in a time of budget crisis. Now is not the time to be cutting back on curriculum if we are to plan fora vibrant economy in the future.
It is the Howard state delegation's responsibility to provide state funds for the county's school system. The delegation needs to fulfill its obligation.
As a member of the education committee, you are in a position to see that this obligation is met. I would like to recommend that instead of suggesting cutbacks which will erode the quality of Howard County education, that you look at ways to provide these funds. You might investigate cutting state mandates.
The Howard County school system is a good, effective system and we need to maintain the services it provides, quality of its programs and personnel, and class sizes.
Howard's schoolsystem is growing rapidly. We need more state funds, not fewer, to keep up with this growth.
Our teachers have endured enough years without salary increases. We have absorbed enough cuts. Please provide the requested funds.